Son of Star Wars [was Re: Edwards base launch (L.A. area)]

Robert J. Bradbury (
Sat, 2 Oct 1999 22:29:52 -0700 (PDT)

On Sun, 3 Oct 1999, Patrick Wilken wrote:

> >
> > It was a Vandenburg Minuteman II launch, its the first test of the Star
> > Wars system.
> I thought Star Wars was scraped as unworkable. I has
> thought Clinton must have killed the project when he
> got into office. OK so much for my naivette. What is
> the real story?

What got scrapped was the idea that you could defend against a full scale attack from a major superpower and/or the use of a space-based defense. The program has continued as a ground-based, anti-missle missle program from the perspective of defense against accidental "single" launches as well as small scale attacks by WoMD from countries such as North Korea.

Its not a universal solution to the global problem, but a relatively specific solution to a relatively specific problem. I think the experience with the Gulf War basically showed that that there is a strategy that "might" successfully include defense against small numbers of missles.

Clinton might be moderatly "anti-defense", but he is really afraid of getting 'held-up' by some petty dictator threatening to lob a missle with Anthrax spores onto a major city. No matter how anti-defense you are, no president is going to put himself in the position of getting held up by a 2-bit thug if he knows (or his critics could even suggest that we might have had the technology) to prevent it.

The real problem is that the knowledge (and cost) for both intermediate range rockets and biological weapons is coming within the price range of dozens of countries (those with populations of 10's of millions). You can't defend yourself against someone with equal resources, but you can make a pretty good effort for defending yourself against someone with 1-2 orders of magnitude less resources.